Who I Am
I’ve been painting and drawing since early childhood. I believe art validates and inspires our imaginations and our hearts. I believe that fine art is to be afforded, absorbed, and appreciated by everyone. My style is a contemporary approach to vintage California and Western life. My art is available as canvas giclées as well as functional art forms such as my "Down-home Fine Art Coffee Mug Collection." I invite art lovers everywhere to have fun turning their kitchen tables and walls into their very own private fine art gallery with my offerings.
You’ll find my art captures nature, animals, farming, life on a ranch, cowboys, Native Americans, roads, and water. Mendocino County, California is where I've lived my life, and it's a life I love. My artistic expression also includes being a singer, songwriter and musician.
Growing up on our ranch with two older brothers made me very much a tomboy in many ways, yet I was clearly never cut out to be the quintessential western cowgirl. Rather than fussing with all the proper tackle of saddle, reins, and cowboy boots, I was always most comfortable riding bareback and barefoot. My renegade style is still exactly that- finding my own way to experience the adventures of life. And I have always had my own original style in both my art and musical expressions.
I’ve loved this life surrounded by ranches, farming life, cowboys and Native American Indians, both on and off the Reservation. My oldest brother realized his childhood dream of becoming a professional bull rider on the PRCA Rodeo Circuit. But after a few years of living his dream, he was killed by a bull at a rodeo. I was 19yo. My brother who died was 23yo. Much of my early art has been in his honor, in respect for his deep love for rodeo and ranch life. My other brother and his family enjoy running their own cattle ranch in our valley, maintaining the tradition of our childhood roots.
I have always been surrounded by the ranch and farm animals and the natural wildlife, and I hope I always will be. The animals are like family. I cannot imagine life without them.
I attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California where I created for myself an Independent Study of Illustration and Printmaking. I graduated with honors in 1989 and took a position as a Teacher Assistant in the printmaking studio at the school - led by Print Master Anthony Zepeda. Anthony Zepeda was a special teacher of mine because he challenged me to stop drawing figuratively (as I'd already had a lifelong experience with drawing animals) and encouraged me to learn about the world of abstract expression. At first, I had no clue what he was suggesting. I remember feeling very nervous when attempting to stop drawing figuratively for the class - which at the time, drawing was my artistic identity, and it was drawing that gave me self-confidence. But I quickly came to appreciate the language of mere line, shape and tone as being the fundamental components that build art - whether figurative (recognizable) or completely abstract. For many years my art style has actually been a blend of both the figurative and the abstract. I think that life is a mix of both. I am thankful for Tony Zepeda's push for me to learn about the abstract fundamentals of art making. Great teachers in life are rare treasures.
While still a student at ArtCenter, I also had a wonderful Art Representative, Ada Gates. She joyously held private art showings of my drawings and paintings at her home in Pasadena, and she sold much of my student art. I cannot express the confidence that those early sales gave me in the early days of becoming a working artist. Ada also helped me with my first formal public art show at one of the premiere restaurants in Pasadena, CA after I graduated from ArtCenter. The show was titled “Lyrical Abstracts” which for me was my own interpretation/dialect/version of abstract work combining two of my favorite artistic influences of all time: artist Franz Kline with his big bold black strokes and modern day artist Richard Diebenkorn with his thinner “structural landscape/terrestrial lines." My linear abstracts tend to be melodic in flow. In my mind, they also depict an ongoing investigation into the connections of the human nervous system and how we are intrinsically interconnected with all life on Planet Earth.
My post graduate days of teaching at ArtCenter were cut short by my mother’s sudden diagnosis of cancer, my return to the ranch to care for her, and her quick passing. I always thought I'd return to Los Angeles but l've remained in my small home town of Covelo painting for more than thirty years now.
My art features Contemporary Western paintings and drawings. My music is an eclectic mix of genres (an Americana mix.) I love the beat and I love getting people to dance and sing with me in the moment. There is always a theme of country and the wild west in my songs. Lyrically my songs are full of the natural scenery, mountains, fields, rivers, and the sky which fill me up. Songwriting for me is yet another way to “paint” this land and the life I know. Singing and writing songs and painting and drawing all go together for me. I like to say, “Painting is like music for the eyes. And music is like painting for the ears. And art and music are both like jewelry for the soul.”
I love painting formal pieces as paintings to decorate homes and businesses. I love painting commissions- making personal treasures for animal lovers and art collectors. But I also love the idea that fine art is meant for everyone, that fine art can be afforded, appreciated, and absorbed in many ways beyond the traditional framed painting. I love the idea of sharing my art in a functional way with art that is handled, moved about, seen, and used. I believe that daily interaction with art is a basic human right. I believe that art is needed for our mental and emotional well-being. Today, I’m stretching my story as a modern-day artist in hopes of connecting, educating, and inspiring more daily art interaction in our homes with my "Down-home Fine Art Collection," a collection which turns your kitchen into your very own private fine art gallery with functional art for the kitchen table as well as the walls. My art comes from my "heArt to yours, from my kitchen to the "heArt" of your kitchen.
The rural communities of Mendocino County have been incredibly supportive of my artistic endeavors over the years. Many local people have original paintings and prints of my work in their homes, and as a local fine artist I can’t help but feel extremely grateful to have such support. For much of my career my artwork has been displayed in our beloved North Fork Café (the only café in our small town of Covelo which sadly burned down in 2020. And yes, sadly, I lost many original paintings in that fire.) I’ve also participated in many annual art shows at our local public library. For the past twenty years, my dear friend Suzanne Picette displayed and sold my art at her very soulful and beloved gallery, Blue Sky Gallery, in Willits, California. Most unfortunately, the gallery had to close due to economic hardships of recent years. However, I am very thankful to have many paintings currently on display as part of the Permanent Collection at the new Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits, CA. I’m proud and thankful to be able to say that my art has been collected locally, nationally, and internationally. And despite the hard times of recent years, I have been very busy with many art commissions and am delighted to see that people are valuing their natural inclination to include more art in their lives. Thank you to all who help to keep the arts alive and strong.
View Marjo's Artist CV (Artist Curriculum Vitae / Course of Life / Resumé)